Arrangers have the difficult task of interpreting music for different ensembles and music groups. Hearing things on such an individualized level, and then having the weight of someone’s else’s composition (and maybe even the fame and familiarity of the music) on your shoulders, makes it a real challenge, and also a thrill when an arrangement is completed successfully and creatively.
Later this week, Chicago Sinfonietta performs Passion. Tragedy. Love. Sure there is a bit of Mendelssohn and some newer pieces, but there is also a little Bernstein. I got the chance to talk to Randall Fleischer about his interpretation and arrangement of West Side Story for the Harlem Quartet. The concert will be the premiere of the West Side Story Concerto.
It’s not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when listening to Mozart, but it’s also not easily forgotten: Mozart was just 14 when he was commissioned for his first opera.
While most of us were likely more focused on getting our drivers license or who we were taking to the senior prom as teenagers, the fact that Mozart at such a young age wrote so many enduring pieces was not lost on the St. Charles Singer’s director Jeffrey Hunt.
I have an embarrassing admission. This weekend while I was watching the television, I saw an interesting commercial with a completely gorgeous song in it. I could have sworn up and down that the song was the theme from Alan Menken’s score for Beauty and the Beast.
Well, I was wrong. It wasn’t Disney but Camille Saint-Saëns’ the Aquarium movement from Carnival of the Animals. Talk about feeling sheepish.
So in addition to this little incident and the Oscar nominations on Tuesday, I was thinking about film scores and classical music, and how the two inform each other.
How many times have you heard music at the movies and couldn’t help but think it was Holst and not Horner who’d written the score? And how frequently have you seen outstanding orchestras and performers lending their talents to film scores?
Lowell Liebermann is in Chicago as the featured guest composer with The Chicago Chamber Musicians' Composer Perspectives concert on Wednesday evening, December 7 in Ganz Hall. Composer Perspectives concerts feature a pre-concert talk, performance with the composer presenting the program and post-concert reception with the composer and artists.
Here are Chicago Classical Music's five questions for Lowell, and his responses:
CCM: What do you listen to on your iPod?
LL: I'm not even sure where it is right now! The only thing on it is actually my own complete works: I only use it when travelling to do a residency at whichever university so that I don't have to lug a suitcase of cds. Otherwise, since I spend my working days either composing or practicing for performances, I tend not to listen to a lot of music in my down time. And when I do, I prefer it live.